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Withdrawal changes

Fnpf
Saturday, January 27, 2018

AS announced late last year, the FNPF board has approved changes to FNPF withdrawal policies that will come into effect next week, February 1, 2018.

This was done in response to members requests received mostly during the FNPF annual member forums as the Fund continues to be mindful of its member's wellbeing.

A liftout on the new withdrawal guidelines was also enclosed in the December 6, 2017 editions of The Fiji Times and Fiji Sun.

However to ensure that all members are aware of the upcoming changes, this week's article will focus on these value adding changes for member as a lead-up to next week's implementation.

"While we constantly highlight the importance of saving for retirement and that members now have 70 per cent of their balances preserved for their retirement, we're also mindful of your pre-retirement needs," said chief operating officer Jaoji Koroi.

"The member forums have provided the platform for members to raise their concerns in regards to assistance provided by FNPF," Mr Koroi added.

The fund has noted concerns that members continue to raise such as the need to increase the textbook allowance for education assistance or to increase funeral assistance, or to deduct the application fees from their balance, among others.

The changes have therefore included options for members on the payment mode for partial withdrawal application fees.

The FNPF will continue to hear out its members without losing sight of the reason why FNPF exists, which is to ensure financial security for our members when they reach retirement.

Prior to the FNPF reform in 2010, the fund provided early access to 22 withdrawal assistance.

This resulted in low preservation of funds for retirement. For example, before the FNPF reform in 2011, a member could access up to 66 per cent of his funds, while the balance or 34 per cent was preserved for retirement.

Excessive withdrawals have resulted in low balances and over the years, a majority of FNPF members, nearing retirement age, have balances of less than $10,000.

Realigning FNPF to its core purpose, certain significant policy changes were then made in the FNPF legislation in 2011 to ensure members accumulate a meaningful level of savings through their working life.

This includes instituting an appropriate reservation policy and limiting access to pre or early retirement withdrawals.

For most Fijians, the FNPF has become our only consistent retirement savings scheme and is possibly, the only income we rely on after work life or at retirement.

On November 1, 2014, FNPF introduced two accounts for all members. These two accounts are the preserved and general account.

The preserved account holds 70 per cent of your balance and can only be accessed on retirement. The general account, however, can be used for preretirement withdrawals under approved grounds of withdrawals.

If you want us to provide an awareness program for your work group, or social group, please feel free to contact us at AdvocacyTeam@fnpf.com.fj

Keeping this in mind, the fund has been able to review its withdrawal policies, as 70 per cent of our FNPF funds are preserved until we are 55.

Members are always urged to think twice before accessing their FNPF and rather use it as a last resort when requiring financial assistance.

The fund will however continue to play its role as custodians, having the responsibility to address — within its powers — any issues they (members) may face.

Listed below is a brief outline of the withdrawal policy changes.

* Partial/early withdrawals:

i. Education:

a. Members can now assist their parents;

b. Increase in textbook allowance to $400 per student, per semester, twice a year;

c. FNPF assistance is only for accredited institutions and courses that are examinable resulting in academic certification;

d. Members are only required to submit invoices from institutions;

e. Penster now recognised as a term of study;

f. Overseas incidental expenses for Year 12 sponsored students;

g. Maximum of $2000 is allowed for overseas incidental expenses for Year 12 sponsored students;

ii. Funeral:

a. Maximum assistance has increased to $2000 from $1500;

b. Members can apply within six weeks of the burial;

iii. Unemployment:

a. Seasonal workers can now access this assistance;

b. Members who have resigned on own accord or have cases pending disciplinary tribunals can be assisted up to three months after the last date of employment;

iv. Medical:

a. Assistance covers prosthetics, hearing aid and wheelchair;

v. Housing — streamlining of requirements:

a. Only one quotation each is required for surveyor, labour for self-build projects, general contractor quotation;

b. Approved plan and valuation report required only for fully financed applications;

c. Valuation report can be obtained from any registered valuer in Fiji;

d. Title searches should not be more than 30 working days — previously it was 20 working days;

e. Quantity surveyors report is now only required for projects exceeding $30,000;

vi. Lease arrangements:

a. Members who have unregistered leases (agreement for lease; instrument of tenancy; approval notice for lease) can access housing assistance and;

b. They can purchase property from TLTB or Ministry of Lands or purchase from a vendor to survey or build a house and include the $218 TLTB can be paid with the premium or included as part of the surveyor's cost;

c. Agricultural lease term of at least 10 years, can be assisted;

vii. Village housing:

a. Members can access assistance for more than one house within the village boundary if they have sufficient funds;

* Full withdrawal

i. Small account:

a. Members with less than $5000 can withdraw their funds if they are:

- over 50 years old;

- have been unemployed for more than three years;

ii. Medical incapacitation:

a. Medical board is now required to meet once every fortnight to assess cases:

b. Board membership has been increased from three to eight with a quorum requirement of three;

* Processing fees

i. Fees for partial/early withdrawals ($10), quick repairs ($50); housing ($100) can be paid through the following:

a. Deducted from member's balance;

b. Part cash and part deduction from member's balance

c. Cash

Members can access the new withdrawal guidelines via the FNPF website on https://myfnpf.com.fj/index.php/members/newwithdrawal-guidelines or can request this on 3307811 or email info@fnpf.com.fj or can visit any of our branches/agencies for further clarification.








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